Caterham's range of ultra-light track cars have been extremely popular amongst driving enthusiasts in the UK and certain other markets such as Italy, Japan and the U.S., and for good reason. The cars represent a much more simplistic approach to racing, with a no nonsense design and purity that most modern track cars could never emulate.

Now, at the 2011 Autosport International Show in the UK, Caterham has unveiled its first ever prototype racing car, which has been designed for a new one-make series and track day enthusiasts. The new prototype is the Caterham-Lola SP/300.R, a joint development between Caterham and automotive engineering group Lola.

Another major debut for Caterham is a new supercharged version of the 2.0-liter Ford Duratec powerplant, which will power the SP/300.R and develop upwards of 300 horsepower. The prototype race car will be capable of using alternative engines but the factory-fit unit will offer the best reliability when matched with the car’s intended Hewland semi-automatic FTR transmission.

Caterham-Lola SP/300.R prototype track car

Caterham-Lola SP/300.R prototype track car

The basic chassis is an aluminum tub with a longitudinally mid-mounted engine coupled to a stress-bearing rear transaxle. A forward splitter and large rear wing reduce lift, while a flat underbody helps ground effect benefits.

The suspension consists of front and rear dual wishbones with pushrod dampers, adjustable ride height and race-style wheels shod with Cooper Avon tires.

The entire thing weighs in at just 1,323 pounds, so with 300 horsepower on tap acceleration is understandably brisk. Expect 0-60 mph times of around 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph.

Caterham is now in the final stages of development of the powertrain and handling characteristics of the car, in readiness for a one-make championship to start in 2012. Additionally, the feasibility of a road-legal version is also being considered.

Only 25 SP/300.R racers will be manufactured each year, allowing Caterham to focus on enhancing the build quality of every vehicle and its customer experience.